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Geologists are not biased?

Despite sound scientific and theological refutation, why do Christians still believe in the millions of years?

Published: 10 May 2014 (GMT+10)
Gary Bates 9433-colorado-river
Did it take the Colorado River millions of years to carve canyon valleys, or were they carved by rapid catastrophic processes?

Most readers and commenters to this site generally agree with and use CMI’s arguments for refuting evolution. However, whenever articles are published that specifically deal with the age of the earth issue, many Christians seem only too willing to accommodate an old-earth view without really understanding where the idea of millions of years comes from. Why do we think that they don’t understand? Because most times they fail to engage with the actual content of a ‘young-earth’ article, but instead defer to a type of belief that the age of the earth is settled or somehow proven scientifically. In essence, they defer to or trust in scientists who believe this. Surprisingly, they still prefer to do this even after the theological reasons are carefully laid out as to why the millions of years damage the actual Gospel, meaning they actually defer to secular science.

In this vein, Paul M. wrote to us (as many did) to comment on ’ article An ‘old-earth’ answer provides only problems. Gary’s replies are interspersed below.

Mr. Bates,
I had a few problems with some of your arguments. First, the assertion that OEC’s have a problem in believing that God is powerful enough to take only six days is false. Every single Christian I’ve read or heard that believes in OEC believes that God is quite capable of creating the universe in six 24-hour days.

Then one should ask why they don’t simply take God at His Word, otherwise one is being inconsistent from the get go? It’s a lot easier than trying to reinterpret Scripture based upon the ever-changing views of fallible scientists, considering they cannot actually perform any scientific test to tell us such things such as the age of the earth. The interpretations of data are the key to understanding this issue. Elsewhere on this site a reader commented:

“An experienced geologist, and writer of over 100 geological papers, WB Hamilton, wrote these words in 2002.
‘Most geoscience is done by interpreting the parts in terms of the assumed whole. Basic assumptions often are so entrenched that practitioners are unaware that there might be little or no evidence behind them. Data, narrowly sought and interpreted, fill the space between starting assumptions and conclusions required by them. … Grant-giving agencies require this method in proposals, and peer reviewers of proposals and manuscripts commonly enforce it, thereby ensuring that most advances are small. The method is no stronger than the premises at issue and hence impedes major advances, for adaptation to incompatible data is made by increasing complexity of assumptions rather than by seeking alternatives.’”1

Since I was at school the (secular) age of the universe has constantly changed. The original article laid out the problems with secular science being your authority instead of the Word of God. As such, one could never be sure of the truth. That is, if we are to interpret God’s Word based upon current conventional thought, then one can never be sure that we truly understand what we read. This is because we might have to change our views based upon some new ‘discovery’ tomorrow that ‘enlightens’ us to the meaning of God’s Word. And just when one thinks we understand the Bible correctly, along comes another scientific view to show us we had it wrong all along!

Playing the “God coulda done it this or that way” card

The fact that God is quite capable of doing it otherwise is also true.

If anything goes then what is the truth? This only really applies if you have a low view of Scripture and fail to trust Him at His Word. I say this because it is not really a relevant argument to say that “God could have done it this way or that way” etc. Using emotional pleading/argumentation means one can invoke anything you like. For example, I could say that God created fairies at the bottom of my neighbour’s garden, because he said he saw them. We don’t read about fairies in Scripture but there might be a strong cultural belief out there that such things are true so we try to insert them in Scripture. Thus, my neighbour becomes an authority over something that is clearly not gleaned from God’s Word alone and thus is absent from it (like millions of years). The issue is: is Scripture authoritative or not when it comes to working out the age of Creation? In short, as I wrote to someone else at the bottom of the original article, it’s about what God said He actually did. Not what he coulda, woulda, shoulda done! As I have stated before, you would not gain the idea of a billions of years old universe or earth from reading the Scripture alone. Your argumentation comes from outside the Bible to impose something that clearly the Bible does not support. The hermeneutical principle is to interpret Scripture with Scripture, not with secular science.

Personally, it is far more impressive and places far more intrinsic value into the universe for God to have taken his time creating. Second, the assertion that to believe in millions of years necessitates evolution is wrong.

I’m not sure how one could think that God is being impressive by acting massively inconsistently with what He wrote, unless you think that the Bible is not the Word of God as many theistic evolutionists like Biologos believe. If that’s the case then we are simply talking past each other because we have different starting points as our authority. Respectfully though, despite your claim to the contrary, your previous comment demonstrates, as I suspected, that you have not understood where the idea of millions of years comes from and you did not read or comprehend the article properly. I need to clarify my comment for the benefit of other readers as it displays a common trait mentioned at the beginning of this article. So often, we receive what appear to be ‘knee jerk’ responses to articles that express an opinion. But they fail to engage with the carefully constructed arguments in the article (as is the case here). The article that you are commenting on was a lengthy treatise showing the huge theological problems with deep time, and there is not a single rebuttal to any of those points. This is understandable in one sense, because most of us have been educated into the secular framework of interpreting our world. Because of this, many simply never stop to, or simply refuse to, consider a young-earth or biblical creationist viewpoint. It is dismissed a priori based on a preconceived belief that ‘all the world’s (secular) scientists can’t be wrong’ and the desire not to be out of step with conventional (man’s) wisdom.

In addition, God exists outside of our physical timespace universe. Time itself is a created entity that began with the creation of the physical universe. So you are using an anthropomorphic argument by using human reasoning and applying it to God. God could have also created in six seconds if He wanted to, but the Word says He took six earth rotation days to do it. This is also supported by Exodus 20:11 which clearly states the timeframe. The Exodus passage is one of the Ten Commandments which were inscribed by God’s finger in tablets of stone (rather authoritative one would think). Or perhaps we should interpret those commandments allegorically also?

Gary Bates 9433-gc
Sedimentary layers. Millions of years of slow, gradual deposition or a result of Noah’s Flood.

Deep time = death!?

While many Christians are only too keen to reconcile secular geologic ages with Scripture, it does violence to the Gospel itself (something that the commenter summarily dismisses later in this article). The age of the earth is derived from the geologic layers we see all over the earth. They are presumed to be millions and billions of years old. These same layers contain fossils that must have recorded death, disease and suffering over millions of years. According to the lineage of Christ in the New Testament, this would put death and suffering long before Adam and the Fall. The age of the earth cannot be separated from the evolution of life on earth—even if Christians try to insert gaps into Genesis or revert to day-age theory and so on. If you don’t believe the rock layers represent billions of years then there is no need to try to insert such timeframes into Scripture in the first place. But if you do defer to the secular interpretation of those rock layers (instead of believing the Bible’s history and that most of them are Flood deposits) then you must also defer to the death they contain. If not, you are not only being unfaithful to Scripture but also to the secular idea of the age of the earth to which you defer in the first place.

There are many problems with evolutionary theory, which I’m sure you are well informed about. Adding millions of years does not get rid of these problems.

I am not even sure what this means except to repeat that millions of years is actually a corollary to evolution.

Is all geological science a case of misinterpretation?

Third, to dismiss geological science as simply a misinterpretation, or worse misrepresentation, is silly.

I don’t recall doing that (a straw man argument). CMI employs and works with many creation geologists like former mining geologist Jim Farquhar. It’s not the science we have an issue with. Again this is a misunderstanding and mischaracterization on your part of what science is; what we mean by science, or the limitations of science in determining such things, or the fact that we employ many scientists who engage in real science. Moreover, we can document how evolutionary beliefs have actually harmed science. May I suggest you read chapter one of Refuting Evolution (freely provided via the link) as it will help you understand what we are talking about here? Evolution has little to do with the way a geologist goes about his work. For example, if he is looking for gold he might try to look for quartz-bearing rocks. How those rocks got there or how old they are is irrelevant to such field work. His conclusions about their age is a predetermined belief that is not derived from the facts alone. This must be the case; otherwise, how can creationary and evolutionary scientists look at the same facts and come to differing conclusions? Moreover, this is borne out by the fact that many evolutionary geologists also disagree with each other over models. But don’t believe me, take it from one of your old-earth spokesmen—the famous evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who said:

“Facts do not ‘speak for themselves’; they are read in the light of theory.”2
Geologists are just as concerned with being correct as anybody, and come up with many different ways to independently test their conclusions.

Ah, thanks for making my point that their conclusion is in place before they even conduct any tests. All scientists start out with a hypothesis that they are seeking to prove.

Can there be bias? Of course. But to claim that their entire field is completely tainted and falsified by bias is simply not true.

You are building a straw man argument again, because I never suggested that the entire field of geology is tainted by bias. The only area in which I suggest this is happening is with the age of the earth (for the aforementioned reasons). But you are actually displaying your own bias, which is a pre-belief that secular scientists only deal with facts and are not biased. In short, your bias is actually based upon the bias of others rather than independent inquiry.

There are very good reasons why geologists, and subsequently other “scientists,” believe the earth is old.

Yes, it’s tied into being taught and exposed to only one side of the argument and being trained to only interpret facts (including radiometric dating) within a fixed paradigm, and to the exclusion of all others. If this is not the case then one would need to explain why geological articles by people who are simply known as Biblical Creationists are excluded from scientific journals for no good scientific reason, but purely on a philosophical basis. It’s actually a form of censorship. As evolutionist Dr Scott Todd from Kansas State University once wrote:

“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”3

Or the famous quote by atheist Richard Lewontin is revisited in full here:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
“The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen.” (Emphasis mine).

So much for not being biased! The last part is pertinent because I’m not sure if you are aware that your appeal to naturalism is actually no better than this outright atheist.

If a Young Earth view is correct, Young earth creationists should be able to explain what we find in the world.

We do and we have. This site contains some 35 years of creationist research. Sadly, such a comment reveals that you have not availed yourself of much of it and reveals a lot of naïvety about the creationist position.

I have yet to see any credible evidence that modern science is completely wrong on things like radiometric dating, ice layers, geological strata, and physics in general. I have seen many attempts, but they have been easily refuted.

Really? That’s news to us. It’s ironic that you seek to lecture us about our mistakes and ignorance on ‘real science’, faith and the authority of Scripture, but you clearly are not well read on what creationists believe. Here’s a challenge. Take one of our articles on radiometric dating, and attempt to falsify our premises using facts rather than ‘hurling elephants’ at us. Just to use one of your own authority arguments such as radiometric dating. If it so infallible as you believe then why do so many radiometric methods conflict with each other, or give wrong ages of things we know the date of? Or why do we consistently find carbon 14 in objects supposedly millions and even billions of years old? I hope you take the time to read the links I’ve provided in this response. Especially dealing with your claims about ice layers and physics in general (you would need to be more specific on what problems we allegedly have with physics though). And I am sure CMI’s physicists would be able to help you.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

There are hundreds of articles on our site dealing with these exact issues. See the Q and A section for starters or specifically 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe. Like many who respond in such a manner it appears that you believe (your own bias) that somehow the evidence is overwhelming in favour of millions of years without really bothering or even wanting to hear evidence to the contrary. Perhaps concerned about academic prestige rather than being a ‘fool for God’.

Finally, to assert that animal death is evil is to malign the character of God. Take Job 38:39–41. To say that predators are a result of the curse is to completely miss the beauty of creation.

Aha, now your true position is revealed, most likely as an adherent of the false teachings of Hugh Ross, who has been shown to be less than truthful with the facts supporting his case. He attempts to separate animal and human death with the latter only being a result of the Fall. But the Bible is clear that both humans and animals were originally created vegetarian (Gen. 1:29–30). As our Dr Jonathan Sarfati says:

“As pointed out in the Exposé of Ross’s book: The Genesis Question, Dr Ross accepts that these verses teach human vegetarianism before the Fall, but he is inconsistent in denying the original animal vegetarianism taught in exactly the same words in exactly the same context. We explained this further in this reply to an old-earther.”4

Also, if you are deferring to the views of progressive creationist Hugh Ross, then he, in turn, defers to interpretations of secular geologists. Also, because he thinks that Noah’s Flood was a localized event, no consideration will ever be given to believing that the massive geological formations we see all over the earth could have been laid down catastrophically and quickly.

Death is beautiful?

Even human death aside, one wonders how compromised or blinded has become if one sees animals being ripped apart, eaten alive, or suffering agonizing pain through venomous bites or stings, as beautiful. I suggest this requires an acute desensitization to the horrors of suffering in the animal kingdom and to God’s Word. For even Christ reminded us that the Heavenly Father cared about the sparrows. It would also be an insult to believing readers of this article who have grieved through the loss of their pets due to cancer or disease and to call this the beauty of God. The Apostle Paul wrote that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). He was reminding us of our fallen state and that death would be done away with one day when God restores things at the end of time. If this restoration did not apply to animals also then will He restore His fallen Creation back to millions of years of suffering in the animal kingdom? We also see cruelty in the animal kingdom and the fossil record. To suggest that God is the originator of this actually maligns the good nature of God.

Overall, that one can resort to such untenable positions that are clearly not supported by Scripture and the Gospel’s big picture, shows that although some profess to believe in God’s Word, the reality is they don’t, instead preferring to defer to the beliefs of secular scientists.

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

References and notes

  1. creation.com/same-data-different-interpretations. Return to text.
  2. Stephen Jay Gould, The Validation of Continental Drift, Ever Since Darwin, Burnett Books, 1978, pp. 161-2. Return to text.
  3. Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 Sept. 1999. Return to text.
  4. creation.com/the-fall-a-cosmic-catastrophe. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Exploring Geology with Mr Hibb
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Refuting Evolution
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The Gap Theory
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The Geologic Column
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